The Darker Your Skin As A Black Man, The Higher Your Risk Of Prostate Cancer…..What To Do?
Prostate cancer is more peculiar to the black community partly because of our skin colour with high melanin preventing the right absorption of vitamin D needed for prostate health to fight the cancer. As prostate cancer researcher, expert, policy maker and practitioner in orthomolecular oncology, a specialty branch of alternative medicine, I am interested in the prevention and management of the disease in black men. Hope you have heard about the Vitamin D and prostate cancer risk in black men?
Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D however; Dermatologists are also of the view that too much sun exposure predisposes you to skin cancer. However, Contrary to the popular belief and what dermatologists have been telling you for years, several studies have already confirmed that appropriate sun exposure actually helps prevent skin cancer. In fact, melanoma occurrence has been found to decrease with greater sun exposure, and can, as already mentioned, be increased by sunscreens. For example, one such study revealed that melanoma patients who had higher levels of sun exposure were less likely to die than other melanoma patients, and patients who already had melanoma and got a lot of sun exposure were prone to a less aggressive tumor type.
Another Italian study, published in the European Journal of Cancer in June 2008, also supports earlier studies showing improved survival rates in melanoma patients who were exposed to sunlight more frequently in the time before their melanoma was diagnosed. Additionally, melanoma is actually more common in indoor workers than in outdoor workers, and is more common on regions of your body that are not exposed to the sun at all. Furthermore, UVB radiation has been found to delay the appearance of melanoma if you are genetically predisposed or prone to skin cancer!
According to Dr. Mercola, the fact is, getting safe sun exposure every day is actually one of the best things you can do for your health. “The point to remember is that once your skin turns the lightest shade of pink (if you're Caucasian), it's time to get out of the sun. Past this point of exposure your body will not produce any more vitamin D and you'll begin to have sun damage. And sunburn anywhere on your body is never good for your health” he stated.
He further stated that contrary to popular belief, many sunscreen products may actually increase the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer because they contain vitamin A and its derivatives, retinol and retinyl palmitate, as well as other hazardous ingredients.
Now we know it has been established that the high rate of prostate cancer in the black community is as a result of vitamin D deficiency. You might be wondering that in Ghana we have abundant sunlight but the question is, though we have abundant sunlight, are you getting the right amount of the sunlight needed for the fight against prostate cancer. Lack of Vitamin D and prostate cancer are highly connected!
Vitamin D studies show that most people today are deficient in this essential vitamin and that increasing the amount of vitamin D in your body reduces your cancer risk by 50% or more, including prostate cancer!
Prevent and reverse prostate cancer with this simple change: add sun. Get vitamin D and prostate cancer risk declines dramatically. How?
Vitamin D from the sun suppresses the growth of tumor cells. With chronic vitamin D shortages in the body, the symptoms of vitamin D shortage can appear. In the case of the prostate, low levels of vitamin D and prostate cancer are clearly linked and for those diagnosed with prostate cancer they have the aggressive form of the cancer.
Vitamin D has many other health benefits. It is the single most important nutrient for your good health. When you are low in vitamin D, you are much more prone to a whole range of health conditions.
Vitamin D acts like a hormone in the body and is crucial for prostate health, let alone your overall health. Most men are very low in vitamin D, especially black or darker-skinned Americans, whose skin color was designed to withstand lots of daily sun exposure.
For black men in other countries for instance, in the winter in northern climates, most men are extremely deficient in vitamin D because of the lack of sun exposure. Black Americans have the highest rates of prostate cancer. Many practitioners now and the papers correlate that risk with low levels of vitamin D.
In fact, the incidence of prostate cancer is greater in countries further north where sunlight levels are much less in the winter. This again correlates with lack of vitamin D and prostate cancer.
Boston University School of Medicine writes about the correlation between vitamin D and prostate cancer.
We have been sold on the fact that sun exposure is bad for us. Now people avoid the sun completely, cover up when out, or use chemical sunscreens, which are actually toxic and cancer causing. If you as a black man in Ghana with the dark skin and still using sunscreen products also, what do you think would happen to your prostate health and health in general? Already the high melanin in the dark skin is acting as protective effect to get the right amount of Vitamin D absorption and you are also using sunscreen product which also acts as a protecting covering from the sunlight, you are increasing your chances of getting prostate cancer.
For instance black men in other countries must adopt what I termed responsible sun exposure, avoiding the strongest mid-day rays, is so beneficial and needs to be done without sunscreen for at least 15-20 minutes per day. For black men in Ghana and Africa, Stay out longer if your skin coloration is naturally darker because it takes longer to absorb the needed amount of Vitamin D from the sun.
Dark skin acts as a natural sunscreen to protect dark-skinned people from the sun when out in it all day, as our ancestors were. But we are not! So the darker your skin the more time you need under the sun and the darker your skin, the higher risk of prostate cancer and the more form of aggressive prostate cancer you get if diagnosed. For black men in other countries, if you want to use a sunscreen during mid-day then use an Organic Zinc Oxide Sunscreen.
Vitamin D Supplements
Try to get sun on your skin. Nothing beats it. If you can't, then Vitamin D supplements are essential.
For black men in other countries, if sun exposure cannot happen due to winter's dark, cloudy days, or for black men in Ghana and West Africa et al, because you lack the time, then the best way to supplement is with potent cod liver oil. This way you are getting your vitamin D direct from a food source rather than a manufactured supplement.
This amazing concentrated food source - cod liver oil - provides digestible fat-soluble vitamin D, plus vitamin A, as well as rich amounts of eicosapentaenoic acid and docasahexaenoic acid. The Weston A. Price Foundation writes:
“Cod liver oil is also rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docasahexaenoic acid (DHA). The body makes these fatty acids from omega-3 linolenic acid. EPA is as an important link in the chain of fatty acids that ultimately results in prostaglandins, localized tissue hormones while DHA is very important for the proper function of the brain and nervous system.”
The natural cod liver oil is fermented to increase its potency and absorbability and is mixed with high Vitamin Butter Oil. The combination of the two produces an amazing health food in very concentrated form. The next Vitamin D and prostate cancer prevention is natural vitamin D3 supplements, but this is nowhere near as good as the cod liver oil, which has been time tested over thousands of years. My advice is today supplements are being advertised everywhere for prostate cancer prevention and management make sure that you’re getting Vitamin D3(cholecalciferol), not D2, an inactive form of Vitamin D. D2 is about 10 times less effective because it is difficult for the body to absorb and use. Vitamin D3 is fat soluble, so it is best to take it with some fat or oily food. That’s why cod liver oil is so effective.
The minimum amounts now recommended for vitamin D and prostate cancer prevention keep going up. It is crucial that you personally test for the optimum quantity you need, and retest regularly to see if the quantity changes, especially as the seasons come and go. As someone with specialty in orthomolecular medicine in alternative medicine I prefer 1000IU because you can easily personally test how many to take and adjust easily the amount.
In conclusion for black men I advise you add vitamin D as a marker as part of your prostate screening programs alongside the PSA test.
Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu is a registered Alternative Medical Practitioner by the Traditional and alternative medical practice council of Ghana. He specializes in orthomolecular oncology, prostate cancer expert, researcher, policy maker and an author. He studied the masters program in prostate cancer-Sheffield Hallam University, UK and recently completed his PhD in alternative medicine. His PhD research focuses on the impact of alternative medicine in Ghanaian men of West African descent diagnosed with prostate cancer and the use of local plant croton membranaceus-Indian Board of Alternative Medicines Academy, Kolkata, India. He is the director of Men’s Health Foundation Ghana; De Men’s Clinic & Prostate Research Lab in Dodowa-Akoto House. He recently pushed for the declaration of father’s day as national prostate cancer day in Ghana to enable awareness raising. He can be reached on 0541090045/0500106570. E-mail: [email protected]
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Raphael Nyarkotey Obu and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana.